Moving to tier 3 city for dream job?

mrburn451's picture
Rank: Monkey | 49

Question for anyone who has moved cities for a job, just curious to get some thoughts from people who are similarly aged as well as more senior folks for insights.

I currently work for a small but promising industry focused PE fund in a top city (NY,SF,LA). AUM is ~$500M but returns are good and we have line of sight to at least a few more funds. I have been there for a few years and am doing well, the fund is doing well, I have carry in the fund, path to partner etc.

Downsides are the cash comp isn't great and I've become a little disenchanted with the fund and am starting to have some questions about firm culture. Now its not terrible in the "I need to leave now" type of way, but it does make me question whether or not I see myself there long term. Basically the partners are great investors and poor managers and its starting to show. A little bit of a dictator culture where the MP has a lot of power and can treat people pretty poorly (not just me) from time to time.

I've lived in this city for 6ish years now and love it, but don't see myself setting down. Cost of living is too high and I'm not really an urban guy long term. With that being said, I have a great network of friends and have a pretty good lifestyle overall.

I recently got an offer from a much larger fund(multi-billion) in the same industry but with a slightly different focus, which is more aligned to what I want long term(withholding details for anonymity). The team seems great, they're excited about me, and the role is a lateral move but still partner track at a much larger firm. Cash comp is in line with what I have and there's equity being offered as well.

The big kicker is that this new position is located in a Tier 3 city and I don't have any ties to the city at all. So would basically be starting over. Also a single guy for what its worth. It is closer to home, which is eventually where I'd want to settle and it's not a flyover city or anything like that. They have a few pro sports teams, kind of up and coming, etc. Plus my cash comp is pretty much the same as what I'd have in my current role, so adjusted for cost of living its basically like 2x'ing my comp. I'm excited about the role, but I worry about leaving everything behind for a role that is great, but in a place that I'm somewhat uncertain of.

Curious if anyone else has faced this before and what they ended up doing.

Comments (17)

Feb 1, 2019

The culture being better at the new company will make a huge difference in quality of life and given you're working for a company, I think being in a smaller city isn't really a bad thing as you'll maximize savings.

Being in bigger cities is really only nice for the networking benefits but I honestly don't even see that mattering much if you're not doing your own thing. A lot of guys on this site specifically don't really crunch the #s on what they actually keep vs earn...


Feb 1, 2019

Easy decision. Leave. If youre not happy and barely scraping by with COL then screw that place.

Feb 1, 2019

how did you build up your network of friends in the current city - hometown, colleagues, sports leagues, tinder? unless they're hometown friends, why not rinse and repeat in the tier 3 city? happy hours w/ colleagues, join a kickball league, swipe right, whatever.

Feb 1, 2019

I think there's a big difference in city tiers. Nashville/Charleston/San Diego sound a lot better to me than Miami/Columbus/Portland.

Up to you, but if I were offered the role in the N/C/SD, I'd go for it. You can always move back to your current city if need be.

Feb 1, 2019

Sounds like a good trade-off to me - particularly the culture aspect. If you're already starting to feel unhappy at your current firm (while you noted it's not a "get up and leave immediately" type unhappiness, it'll only grow worse from here, I think). I agree with the commenter above's point in evaluating your current friend group - while it's not "easy" to make an entirely new friend group, if you've done it already once, it should in theory be less daunting to do it again

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Feb 1, 2019

Plus my cash comp is pretty much the same as what I'd have in my current role, so adjusted for cost of living its basically like 2x'ing my comp.

Don't discount this. COL adjustments are a joke. The value of what a big city brings to you (people, networking opportunities, investment targets, food/art/entertainment scenes), isn't the same for everyone, and housing is never apples-to-apples.

Let's say someone was moving from Colorado Springs, CO to San Francisco, CA. NerdWallet has a COL calculator - it says you'd have to earn $193,138 in SF to reproduce earning $100,000 in Colorado Springs.

GIVE ME A FUCKING BREAK. Commute time? Crime? Size and newness of home? Noise? You can't convince me your living situation on $500k in SF would be as good as on $100k in Colorado Springs.

That doesn't mean it's a bad trade - the intangible opportunities available in SF may make you, personally, say "I would much rather pay more for a 750 sf apartment in the Mission than a brand new 2,700 sq ft home with a backyard, less than 15 minutes from my office." If that sounds insane to you, then don't let someone else convince you it's not.

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Feb 1, 2019

Hmmm, that's a tough one.

Have you ever lived in a city before where you don't have a network of friends? It's not easy, I've done it - I moved for work, but I always knew it wouldn't be long term so it was a bit easier (I was there ~3 years). It ended up being a good decision since it gave me good experience to further my career, but at the end of my time there I was very ready to get back to friends.

What's stopping you from changing firms in NYC/SF? Or maybe find a new firm that is located more in the suburbs so that you can kind of get the best of both worlds.

Also, having extra $$ in your pocket is useless (IMO), if you're not enjoying yourself outside of work.

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Feb 1, 2019

I'm going to attack this less on the job situation and opportunity front than others have already. Mostly because I am assuming you are not in such a niche industry that you cannot find an opportunity at an entirely different firm from these two that is in a city you are truly happy to go to.

I grew up in a small town and for this reason I love the big city life. That being said, I don't see myself being a city lifer and will certainly look to settle once I am thinking it's family time. I say this because I am curious how old you are (I'm assuming mid-late 20s). When I was in business school I spent my summer in the Midwest in a Tier 2-3 city. This was only a summer mind you, and what I took away from it is that many of these places are populated by 90% born and bred folks. This can make it extremely difficult to fit in and feel at home. I visit these cities all the time for work and I have gotten the vibe in most of them (and not only the Midwest). That summer I was saved by having some friends from undergrad there, but most people in the referenced age range were married and having kids. On top of that, the born and bred types all had local sub-communities that they didn't leave (e.g. their private high schools, social clubs, golf courses, etc.).

Do as much research as you can on the city, and I don't mean just googling around. I'd try to find people within your network who live or are from there, even if they're weaker connections, and just ask them openly and honestly about the social dynamics of the city. You might be super outgoing and ready for the challenge, but even if that is the case, why is the average person you recently met there going to call you up to hang on the weekend instead of calling their best friend from high school who they have known for over a decade.

That's my $0.02. Make sure you're happy with the city because you can find another firm if the culture and dynamics at your current home are starting to wane on you. I went into that summer knowing there was a 95% chance I wouldn't take it full time and my assumption was quickly confirmed.

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Feb 1, 2019

Wow, thanks for the feedback! It's all super helpful. To comment on a few of the points I saw and to give some updates.

I wouldn't say I'm scraping by where I live now. I'm actually doing well for myself, but it's not enough to see myself living there long term. It's like being a banking Associate in New York. ~300k a year is a great salary and would afford a fantastic lifestyle as a single guy who doesn't mind overpaying for a 1 bedroom and getting ripped off left and right on food/events etc, but that amount of money would be different than making the same amount in a Tier 2/3 city. You could make that amount forever and live like a king where as in NYC I'd probably need a few million to live the same lifestyle.

PE for me will always pay a decent salary, but the real money comes with carry and I'm ~3-5 years out from having any carry hit and probably 6+ to start making meaningful carry. If I'm starting to feel somewhat unhappy with the firm I'm at, do I want to spend another decade here? I know the answer is no.

Regarding making friends, I was lucky to join an analyst class of 30-40 out of undergrad as well as move with a close friend from college. Combo of both things made it an easy transition. I'm a social guy so I'm sure a combo of good work environment, sports, extracurriculars etc I could find people. It's more the minor fear of making the leap and having to rebuild my life or making the transition and regretting it.

I'm single and in my mid 20s now and while I'm not 100% looking to settle, thats ultimately my next step. I feel like I've had some time to fool around, been in some fun relationships, etc, but I have clarity that I want more serious things moving forward.

Haven't done B school, but its still a consideration. I would need to go in the next year or two though as I don't want to be finishing too much later than my late 20s/early 30s.

Feb 1, 2019

You need to define your city a little better, Tier 3 makes me think of Omaha or Shreveport. Are there sports teams? Decent financial presence? Major universities nearby? Is it bitterly cold for half the year (Minneapolis) or are you by the beach? Can you easily travel to other cities (located in the Northeast, or major airport nearby)?

Don't underestimate how difficult it is to meet people when you're a little older and aren't in a major city, you don't have that forced connection with people anymore like you did in college or at a large analyst class. The caliber of chicks / dudes will likely be much lower, and most people in these types of cities aren't the most driven career-wise so it's hard to find much in common. I'll echo what was said above that the majority of people in these cities were raised here, and the first question you'll encounter is "what high school did you go to?" I recently made a move for a great op but had a long time GF to come with me, and that helped significantly but I'm ready to get tf out of here after just a year

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Feb 1, 2019

The Mormons not playing ball at GS SLC?

Feb 1, 2019


Feb 1, 2019

Don't want to give it away but East Coast city with greater than 500k population. So that narrows it to about 5 cities. All of which satisfy the things you laid out. Yes to sports teams, yes to universities, and yes to more millennials hanging around post grad. There's not official tiering system but I think of it below a Tier 2 city if you consider Chicago or DC a rung below SF, NYC, LA the only top tier ones.

Feb 1, 2019

My $.02 is that I think you already know your answer but you're second guessing yourself. You're single and don't have ties to the area, don't see yourself there long-term, will be in essence doubling your income, and your partners are beginning to sow seeds of discontent. Take the plunge.

Feb 1, 2019

It's very personal decision whether to move or not, can't advise, but can share my experience.

Being from a fly-over city myself I moved around in my 20s few times for work before getting to Chicago where I spent last 5 years. Now being in my early 30s, finishing business school and looking forward, I'm totally not moving to a smaller city anytime soon.

Each move in my 20s was a case, where I knew I'd spend one or two years and move on, and each of them was the case where I knew no one there. Each time it was painful to a some degree because of all the reasons outlined above.

It's harder to meet people when you're getting older especially in small cities. Think about it, people are forming families earlier there, or sticking in their small and closed circles for life. Really hard to get there or get people do something besides their usual and familiar routines.

People with ambition or a reasonable degree of passion for something usually leave for big cities, and those who left aren't the folks you'd like to hang with, most likely. After each move it took me 6 to 8 month to build up at least acceptable network of people.

Cost of living is a factor for sure, however if you plan to stay there for long time you should think about transportation infrastructure, nearby universities, demographics in the area, amenities like golf courses, sailing options, hunting grounds, if you're into things like that.

Feb 1, 2019

Been in this decision, but the place I was leaving was home.

I won't lie, it's hard personally. Very hard. Socially, just tough. All new stuff. You'll feel alone.

But at least for me, end game is worth. I circled back years later and that job gave me amazing leverage.

As a single guy, you have no ties to anything but your career and hobbies. Go for it.

Most Helpful
Feb 3, 2019
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